Victoria 3: Beginner Tips

Quick Links

  • Understanding Pops
  • Understanding Goods
  • Always Exploit Natural Resources
  • Think Carefully About Research
  • Don't Expand Too Quickly
  • Don't Be Afraid To Get Into Debt
  • Savescumming Works At War

Victoria 3 is a complicated game. It's an incredibly deep, complex grand strategy game with a heavy focus on economic and political simulation. As a result, there are a ton of moving parts, and disruption to just a few can lead to catastrophic events.

It's for this reason that getting to grips with the basics and mastering them early is key to success. You'll have to get your head around your population, the obstacles you'll face when trying to pass new laws, and the complex market system if you want to soar – otherwise, you'll crash and burn your way into the twentieth century.

Understanding Pops

Understanding what Pops are is a very important part of getting to grips with Victoria 3. Pops is short for Population, and they are a stratified representation of the people who live in your country.

A Pop is categorized by their Profession, Culture, Religion, and Workplace, and each unique combination of these four variables is its own Pop. A Pop's size is simply the number of people who fit all four specific variables.

For example, Catholic Welsh Peasants who work on a Rye Farm would form one Pop, but Protestant Welsh Peasants who work on a Rye Farm would be a separate one.

Pops are your country's lifeblood – they staff your buildings, form your armies, and pay your taxes. They also vote or at least have the potential to be politically active. Depending on your laws, the goods you have access to, and your economic stability, individuals may end up joining Interest Groups, with certain groups being more attractive to certain Pops. These are politically motivated movements that have varying levels of clout – they can be used to your advantage to pass laws that you're in favor of, or they can prove to be a hindrance, stopping you from doing what you like or even revolting at points.

Understanding Goods

While Pops are the lifeblood of a nation, Goods keep the blood pumping. Goods have three general uses:

  • Goods can be used in buildings to create or supply the production of different goods. For example, Iron is used to make Tools.
  • Goods are used by Pops to satisfy their wants and needs. For example, Grain is used to feed people, and Liquor is used to satisfy a desire for substances.
  • Goods can also be traded on the market for profit.

Keeping a healthy balance of Goods is important. If you don't have enough of a certain type of Goods, you may:

  • Not be able to fully supply a building, meaning its output won't be sufficient enough to keep it in balance. This leads to lower wages, fewer employees, and knock-on effects in the supply chain.
  • Not be able to supply Goods to Pops, lowering their standard of living. Pops with an insufficient standard of living may lead to turmoil.
  • Not be able to secure profitable export trade routes.

Of course, oversupply can also be an issue – though less of an issue than undersupply. Having too much of a Good means its market price will plummet, which may lead to certain buildings not being able to turn a profit. This leads to a lower balance and lower wages.

Always Exploit Natural Resources

Your nation's natural resources are incredibly important – they will be crucial to your economy for much of the game if you go heavy on trade, and the more resources you have, the better you'll be able to supply your own luxury goods construction lines.

Even before you have a stable, self-maintaining economy, setting your resource buildings to upgrade automatically is a good way to ensure a steady income of raw goods. This is especially true of widely used goods, such as Wood, Coal, Iron, and Grain.

Be careful that you don't oversupply, though, as prices will plummet!

Pumping lots of money into raw goods production is a great way to earn prestige by becoming one of the world leaders in the good's production!

Think Carefully About Research

Unlocking new methods of production or goods to produce always feels great, but you'll want to hold off on the upgrades until you can comfortably sustain what they ask for.

Victoria 3's technology tree is very wide, and technology spread can be quite random depending on how other nations develop. This means the upgrades and unlocks you get might not be in the most logical order – it's easy to fall into a trap of just researching the techs that sound good, but you can be a lot more efficient if you just take the time to think things through.

Mid and late-game goods and upgrades require a large number of input goods to get off the ground. Even if you're a significant supplier of the raw materials of a good, you'll want to consider whether you'll be able to sustain the production levels that the potential upgrade asks for.

On the flip side, it's very possible to unlock certain goods before you even have a use for them. Stand-out examples of these are Electricity and Oil – don't construct Power Plants or Oil Rigs until you have other buildings and production methods that use the goods they produce – or know that they'd be great on the markets.

Don't Expand Too Quickly

Depending on your starting nation, you may be in a very good position to conquer your neighbors' lands quite easily, whether this is through powerful alliances or your own powerful army.

Be wary when considering this style of gameplay, though. A conquered state needs to be integrated as soon as you can, requiring a hefty chunk of Beaurocracy to do so, and it is very likely to be in turmoil for a number of years. This contributes to your level of radicals and can pose a significant threat.

To integrate a state, you need to head to its overview tab – which may not be something you look at lots! Try to make it a habit after every war.

Don't Be Afraid To Get Into Debt

Victoria 3 isn't like other grand strategy games – it tries to simulate a realistic economy down to the ability to borrow capital from populations. As your balance grows, you'll stockpile it in the form of gold, which forms your treasury. Your gold reserves have maximums, though, so it's always a good idea to be spending money on construction or even costly trade routes if they get you the Goods you need to run your country.

You can increase your Gold reserve maximums with technology!

What this means is that you don't need to panic if you suddenly see your balance hitting the negatives and you start losing your accrued gold stores. You don't even need to panic if you hit zero! If you run out of gold and still have a negative weekly balance, you'll start borrowing from your Pops – this is called credit, and there's a certain amount you can take before getting into real trouble.

You can check your level of credit by hovering over the balance icon.

If your credit amount reaches the maximum and stays there for a while, you may have to declare bankruptcy. This will cause significantly severe negative effects for your nation, including wiping out your buildings' balances and increasing the overall level of radicalism. Try to avoid having to default as much as possible.

Tips for getting out of a negative balance in a pinch include:

  • Freeing up some bureaucracy.
  • Adding consumption taxes on some of your pricier goods.
  • Increasing general taxes in the short term.
  • Pausing construction.

Savescumming Works At War

If you're the type of person who doesn't mind doing so, savescumming is a good way to get the outcomes you desire during the early stages of a military campaign. If you save before starting a diplomatic play that would lead to a war, you can scope out the countries that are more likely to join either side and which ones can be swayed. In many cases, it will be possible to reload and sway key allies to your side before your foe snags them.

Alternatively, you can give up on the war before you ever start it if the odds are too mismatched in your enemy's favor.

This is not possible in Ironman mode, but remember that it is possible to get achievements without being in Ironman mode in Victoria 3!

It feels a little like cheating, but it's certainly one route to success.

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